The European Union is weighing sanctions against the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The European Commission is considering sanctioning Patriarch Kirill, who has been a regular supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. Kirill would be one of several individuals sanctioned by the EU if the document is approved.

Kirill has been “one of the most prominent supporters of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine," according to a European External Action Service document seen by Politico on Wednesday.


The commission focused specifically on a series of sermons released by Kirill since the Feb. 24 invasion, as well as the patriarch's blessing for Russian forces.

“Patriarch Kirill is therefore responsible for supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine,” the document concludes.

Although the bishop has avoided terms such as "war," which is in line with Putin calling the campaign a "special military operation," Kirill has played an integral role in laying down a spiritual and moral justification for Putin's actions and the invasion. Kirill expressed approval for the invasion and blessed the troops traveling there. He has also spread dubious claims of an eight-year genocide in the Donbas region and suggested that the Ukrainian population wanted to force gay pride events on the Donbas's residents.

Kirill's actions have affected his relationship with the international church community. There is an effort to expel Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church from the World Council of Churches over his vocal support of Putin and the invasion.


Pope Francis recently spoke with Kirill and chastised him for his support of the war.

"I don’t understand any of this," the Pope told Kirill, according to an Italian news outlet. "Brother, we are not state clerics, we shouldn’t speak the language of politics, but rather the language of Jesus. We are shepherds of the same holy flock of God. For this reason, we must look for a path to peace; we must stop the fighting. A Patriarch can’t lower himself to become Putin’s altar boy."

This is the harshest criticism that Francis has aimed at Kirill and Russia since the start of the war.